France’s Orange, which until recently had been flirting actively with the idea of becoming a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in South Africa, is moving fulfilment for its popular online store, launched in the country last year, from London to Johannesburg.
The operator, which already owns networks in a number of countries across Africa, also intends expanding sales from the online store to operators in markets across the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and broadening the number of products it sells.
Orange says the store has proved popular among consumers looking for phones, tablets and other electronic devices that are not always easily available through the usual channels in South Africa. It also appeals to those who don’t want to deal with a mobile operator.
Sébastien Crozier, CEO of Orange Horizons – a company established to spearhead Orange’s expansion into new markets, including South Africa – says turnover from the online store was “quite good enough” to justify moving the warehouse to Johannesburg.
Crozier says the decision will mean faster fulfilment of orders and will give customers the option of fetching their orders in person. The warehouse is being established at Orange’s offices in Sunninghill, north of Johannesburg, and will begin operating in early May.
Orange also expects good demand from operators in the Sadc region. The store will generate “several million euros” in sales this year, says Crozier. “We think it’s going to be an opportunity to develop our business and our turnover and to settle Johannesburg as a local hub. It’s also an opportunity for us to offer a large range of products, with devices you don’t find very easily. But we don’t have all the answers. We are still learning every month about this market.”
Meanwhile, Crozier says Orange has decided to put its plans to launch an MVNO — piggybacking on another operator’s network infrastructure — on the backburner. It is “impossible” to become a full-service MVNO — as opposed to a brand licensee — because South African operators are not interested, he says, and communications regulator Icasa has not yet developed regulations governing MVNOs, making market entry difficult.
“We are not going to wait for the MVNO [regulations]; we want to go forward into the market,” says Crozier.
Instead, Orange will focus on areas such as its online store and its online video portal, where it has plans to make more South African material available. It will also expand its recently launched Wi-Fi offerings. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media